Engaging Communities, Saving Species, and Protecting the Grasslands of the Northern Great Plains

Martha Kauffman

Martha Kauffman, Vice President, Northern Great Plains November, 2021

The Northern Great Plains is as large as California and Nevada combined, spanning more than 180 million acres, crossing five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. This unique and vital region supports 1,595 species of plants, which provide habitat for 300 species of birds, 95 species of mammals, 28 species of reptiles, and many important pollinators. It is one of the world’s last remaining intact temperate grasslands, but native prairie is rapidly losing ground to expanding agriculture, energy development, and the spread of non-native plants, threatening the rich biodiversity of the region with keystone species such as prairie dogs and bison being eliminated from 98% of their historical ranges.

To protect this critical landscape, WWF leads innovative work alongside public agencies, tribal nations, ranchers, and other partners to create a sustainable future for the Northern Great Plains. Our two main goals are to sustain and enhance biodiversity across the region and restore two flagship species—bison and black-footed ferrets—where possible within the Northern Great Plains. Achieving these goals requires a multi-pronged approach that includes work at the local level, in addition to US federal policy advocacy and global initiatives.

In this episode of the Insiders Series, Martha Kauffman, vice president of WWF’s Northern Great Plains program, shares how WWF is working to restore this living prairie in the heart of North America by scaling sustainable ranching, restoring wildlife, and protecting grasslands, all while supporting ranchers, farmers, and Native Nations.